Marketing Strategy

Your guide to creating the ultimate email marketing subject lines

By Hannah Sheffield IMI Marketing Coordinator

So you have something to say. You want to use email because it generates revenue. How do you get potential customers to actually look at the information? How do you get people to open the email in the first place?

We know how. Here are five examples of subject lines to help you increase open rates for your email marketing:

Pop-culture references/integrations. Ever heard of DJ Khaled? Popular news service TheSkimm used a saying from this Snapchat-famous entertainer in a marketing email targeting millennials and Gen Z. The subject line was “Major Key Alert.” Because young people in this target audience were more likely to be familiar with DJ Khaled and understand the “major key alert” reference, they were more compelled to open the email message.

Timely conveniences (for the customer). Yes, there are “best practices” for when to send emails. Does your company have to stay within those parameters? No. Companies can generate business by sending emails during off-peak hours. One example of a timely convenience would be a food and beverage magazine sending an email at 5:15 p.m. The subject line could be “Where to Get the Best Beer Right Now." How convenient would that be for the target audience? Even if you’re not sending an email during an optimal time for open rates, that's okay. There are other benefits to sending a creative subject line at off-peak times if you think creatively. You might even see an increased click-through-rate by venturing outside the established parameters. 

Indirect testimonials. Use these to appeal to professionals who want to see results. This type of subject line should showcase benefits of your product or service. One example of an indirect testimonial is “How (target business name) can build a presence on social media." The key with this tactic is to personalize the subject line. Insert the name of the business to which you’re sending the email.

Subject line and preview text working together. This doesn’t mean starting a sentence in the subject line and finishing it in the preview text. Each should be a complete thought that complements the other. One example subject line from Buzzed is: “Not Cool, Guys." The preview text that followed: "Okay, WHO left the passive-aggressive sticky note on my fridge. Honestly, who acts like this?” This authentic, light, conversational tone draws you in. Use appropriate brand voice for your company, though.

Scary/inspiring. All right, maybe not scary. But, you should write a subject line to position your product/service as time-sensitive. Doing so will create a sense of urgency. One example from fashion designer Tory Burch urges readers to open before an upcoming holiday. The subject line reads: “There’s still time: great Valentine’s Day gifts." Another example: Wayfair, a furniture retailer, inspired and complimented in one of its latest subject lines by writing, “Hey there, trendsetter. Save on must-have modern accent furniture."

Check out the other examples in the infographic below:

Remember to keep in mind...

It's important to align your message with the personas for your target audience. As the writer, you don’t want to come up with something that your audience just won’t understand. For instance, yes, a lot of people watch The Bachelor. But if one of your email segments is adult males between the ages of 45-54, you don’t need to make references of what “Sarah” from the Bachelor did last night. Got it?

We want to hear about other clever subject lines! Share your favorites with us in the comment section below.

Finding your brand's voice

By Hannah Sheffield IMI Marketing Coordinator


So you’re creating content for your brand. How do you establish credibility? How do you show your customers that your brand has something important to offer them? You can show your company’s value through a uniform tone of voice, language and style. You can also do so through the production and distribution of content. This consistency is otherwise known as brand voice.

Brand voice is essential for customer recognition. Beyond that, your brand voice is a representation of your company’s values, status, employees and service/product offerings. If you're developing a content marketing strategy, begin with these considerations to develop your brand’s voice:

Nail down four characteristics. Ask what sets your brand apart from others. How does your brand share or explain a concept to a client? List each characteristic with one word. For example:
    1    Witty
    2    Realistic
    3    Engaging
    4    Visionary
When deciding on characteristics that define your brand, it will help to review content that the company has already produced. When reviewing, you might be able to spot trends in language or in an overall feeling of the content.

Outline your company’s values. This is important to convey to prospective customers. You want your brand content to “bleed” your values. Everything your company produces should reflect your brand. If done consistently, your brand will have value associated with every piece of content produced or every product sold. Here are examples of companies that have used consistent brand voice. Each is now associated with certain characteristics:
    1    Volvo: Safe
    2    Chanel: Sophisticated
    3    Subaru: Dependable
    4    Ford: American Classic

Keep the customer in mind. How can your brand communicate your business offerings to satisfy customer wants and needs? Keep in mind that your tone should not only reflect your employees and company values, but the customer base as well. Many of your efforts will be to retain or obtain customers. Considering their needs and interests is vital for your brand voice to be heard.

What do you want people to know about you? Develop three concepts about your brand that you want to convey. These concepts should align with your content marketing goals. Keep those in mind when creating content. Consider how you can show your customers what your brand values and who the people behind the brand are. Use your brand voice to deliver value to your target customers day in and day out.

Parting Thoughts

If people are the strength behind your brand, show it. The brand tone of voice should reflect company values, culture, and characteristics. You can build up your brand by using uniform diction and tone. When your company and content creators are able to integrate brand voice into content, your marketing will stop feeling like marketing. Your customers will know your brand without needing a logo or signage. And that’s one thing your company should be aiming for.

Using video as the vehicle to tell your brand's story

By Hannah Sheffield IMI Marketing Coordinator

It's common knowledge that video has taken over the internet. Everyone is either watching video or making it. Companies using video enjoy 41% more web traffic from search than non-users (Aberdeen). With statistics like that, how could your business not want to utilize video?

The question, then, is what type of video do you produce that has a longer shelf life and still serves a purpose for your brand? The solution is a brand identifying video. Something that describes your brand in a short amount of time. What elements should you consider when developing the concept for your brand's video? Here's one example of a brand identity video from Cole Haan.

Here are our top pro tips to creating a video to enhance your brand:

Have a strong, captivating lead-in. This video starts off with soft music and then gradually begins to show the subject. The voice-over starts, and the story begins. Rather than jumping right into the story, viewers are able to understand the tone of the video and the brand’s voice.

Lay out your company's values and thought process. Let your consumers know how you see your brand. In the CMO of Cole Haan’s first sentence, David Maddocks says what he appreciates about what a brand values.  Later on in the video, Maddocks says, “We really don’t consider ourselves a part of a particular industry. We think about ourselves as being a part of a culture.” This statement positions the brand as an essential part of a society’s nature, rather than just another company to be overlooked.

Integrate your company's history to outline its future. Maddocks gives a brief history and talks about how the brand is evolving to accommodate for what its consumers value. Maddocks outlines the future for Cole Haan by describing how the company culture is being built around the company’s convictions.

Talk about what your audience desires and how your brand intersects with those wants and needs. What sets this video apart from other branding videos? David Maddocks recognizes what Cole Haan’s target audience doesn’t care about. Maddocks knows the desires of his target audience (knowing how a brand is relevant to them). He acknowledges that Cole Haan’s target audience calls the shots, and that the brand is there to complement these people as they evolve.


To begin the process of creating a branding video you have to ask yourself: How does my brand intersect with my target audience's values? Know your personas and know them cold. In order to make a video that appeals emotionally and logically to your audience, you need to know what that audience values.

If you have any insight you’d like to share about branding video formats please share with me in the comments below!

Casting talent for your video project

Internal versus professional talent

by Beatriz Terrazas, IMI co-founder

There are many ways to fill a talent role for your visual message. At InMotion Imagery we draw from several talent agencies for narration and acting roles in our clients’ videos. However, there can be compelling reasons for using talent within your company. For instance, you may want to feature an employee profile as a way to recruit new talent, or you may want to show actual employees in their everyday roles for an internal training video. Or, you may have a tight budget and feel that you can’t afford professional talent for your project.

In fact, cost is one of the main reasons clients cite for wanting to use internal talent. Yes, you’ll pay for professional talent to voice or act in your company video, and you might think the main cost involved in using someone within your company is time and energy. But, there could be hidden costs to using your own talent. 

Professional actors are experienced at taking direction, reading narration, using proper inflection, and, in general, are comfortable in front of the camera. But let’s say your budget dictates that you use a family member or employee instead, and you plan for a couple of hours of production time with that person. What happens to your budget if you have to spend double or triple that time because your talent couldn’t get the line or scene right? What happens to your project deadlines if you have to re-shoot parts of your project entirely? How does this affect not just your time, but your overall feeling about the project? 

Remember: Your visual message is a marketing tool. You want the people delivering the message to be able to do it well.

If you still want to produce your visual message with internal talent, here are some tips to help you get it right:

  • Planning is everything. Consider doing some informal “casting” among the folks you’re considering for this part using a real camera, even if it’s the one on your smartphone. See how people come across on camera.
  • If this is a speaking role, consider people who are articulate and present themselves well in terms of dress, grooming and demeanor. It’s not necessary to be a super-model or to look like a Hollywood actor, but it is necessary to be well-groomed and well-spoken.
  • Consider how even the most articulate person will do in front of a camera. Some people do very well, while others get nervous or flustered. Will you be asking the person to memorize a script? Will you be using a teleprompter? Will you be doing an interview style production? Think about who will do best with each scenario.
  • Is diversity of gender, race and ethnicity important to your company? If it’s something that you want to come across in your message, consider casting someone who will represent the diversity that matters to you.

Here's an example of a project in which clients used their own employees and brought in their own talent for the main role and it worked beautifully!

The power of storytelling

Putting the power of story to work for you

by Beatriz Terrazas, IMI co-founder, three decades media experience, winner 1994 Pulitzer Prize

There’s something about a well-told story that evokes an emotion in a reader or viewer. That emotion can cause a person to laugh, cry, have a change of heart, or take some kind of action. Never did I witness this power of story more than when I worked at The Dallas Morning News. There were two memorable instances in which the power of story caused people to act.

A story about a family

The first was a story I wrote about a child who was severely injured in an accident. His family was very poor and despite doctors’ opinions to the contrary, his parents believed he would one day regain full use of his brain. In the afternoons, they rode him up and down the street in a wheelchair so that he could enjoy the sunshine with his siblings. The day after the story ran, my voicemail filled up with messages from callers who wanted to help this family. Particularly poignant was the woman whose voice choked up as she said her kids had emptied their own piggy bank and could I please tell her how to get the money to the family. I couldn’t keep up with the callers who wanted to help. No sooner would I note names and numbers than my voicemail was full again. When all was said and done, readers raised more than $12,000 to help this family.

A story about peaches

The second story was about peaches. This one was a profile on a local family who sold the fruit seasonally directly from its orchard just east of Dallas. No picking of un-ripened fruit transported in refrigerated trucks to your grocery store; just sun-warmed fruit straight from the orchard to your table. After the story ran there was such a rush on the family’s country store that one day cars were lined up for what might have been a full mile on the highway waiting to turn into the store.

What did these two stories have in common?

Two very different stories, but both caused people to do more than just read. But why? And how? Those were questions I asked myself then because I never expected these reactions from readers. But with the benefit of hindsight and by thinking carefully about my own enjoyment and experience with stories, I better understand how and why these stories that touched readers’ emotional cores. There were, in fact, some very basic story elements at play—elements with which we’re all familiar:

Archetypal story structure: We are wired for story. Ever since we heard our first fairy tale, we understood that storytelling is a primal way to communicate. Stories have a structure we get--a narrative arc with a beginning, middle and end. They open with something—an action or a problem—that invites us to go along on a journey and find out what happens next. The action and tension is such that it compels us to keep reading—or in the case of visual stories—to keep watching.  

Interesting characters: The most compelling stories have characters with whom we identify or empathize. Certainly parents who love their children could identify and empathize with the parents in the story about the injured child. And even those of us who aren’t parents can imagine what it must be like to risk losing a loved one.

Emotional connection: Parents reading the story about the child understood that to see their own children seriously injured would be among the most painful situations they’d ever go through. This triggered an emotional connection to a set of parents they didn’t even know—and a desire to help them.

With regards to the peach story, who doesn't have childhood memories of biting into sun-ripened fruit and feeling the juice dribble down their chins? Instagram and other photo apps have turned us into a nation of foodies who like to be reminded of our earth-to-table connection and shop local whenever possible.

There are other elements that contribute to the power of story, but these three were most influential in readers' reactions to these two pieces.

Why should I care?

Why does this matter to brands and companies? For a couple of reasons, at least. First, as I mentioned earlier, our brains are uniquely primed to understand stories. Secondly, because we’re living in an era of shortened attention spans, you need some powerful tools to keep your audience captive. Storytelling remains among the most powerful tools at your disposal. Combine the basics with visuals and you could have some potent video marketing content.

I'll leave you with a final thought and a fun example of powerful storytelling. There were some interesting visual stories among the Super Bowl 50 ads. But my favorite happens to be the Budweiser commercial from 2015 featuring the Clydesdales and the lost puppy. Remember that? Classic storytelling structure: interesting characters (noble horses and a cute puppy) and a big problem (puppy gets lost) keep us watching. We want to know: will the puppy survive the dangers of the harsh world to make it home? 

Every brand has stories that can engage customers or clients. Let IMI put the power of storytelling to work for you. See more of our work here

What exactly is video content marketing? Second in an occasional series.

Video content marketing: what it is and what it isn't

Simply put:

  • Video content marketing is informative, engaging, and sometimes entertaining. 
  • Video content marketing is not a commercial. 
  • Video content marketing is accessible to more marketers than traditional video advertising. 
  • Video content marketing is not something that magically works no matter what. 

Video content v. traditional commercials

Commercials tell us something, while video content shows us something. 

Brands use commercials to tell us things about themselves: "This is what we do." "This is where we’re located." "We’re having a sale this weekend.” "We’re better than our competitors." 

Video content, on the other hand, is a way brands can show their consumers facets of their personalities, the qualities that set them apart from competitors, how they operate, what it’s really like to work with them. Video content also lends itself more organically to the enjoyment of the primal act of storytelling.

Let's look at these two Gatorade campaigns, both creative, but fundamentally different:

We Love Sweat

Sweat It to Get It

The core message is the same--Gatorade is for when we sweat. However, the commercial tells us that Gatorade loves sweat, while the fun vending machine video engages us in a story about how Gatorade is only earned with our sweat. The “We Love Sweat” commercial is meant to be experienced passively when it airs on TV or when watched online. But the “Sweat it to Get it” video taps into our human need for story; because we engage with it on that level, we are more likely to share and discuss with others.

Video content marketing: open to the public

Video content is such a powerful force in marketing right now, and, unlike most traditional advertising, it’s accessible to small businesses as well as large. Think about this: In order to enter the network TV advertising space you must invest in production commercials; your budget must be big enough to buy good placement; you have to run the ad often enough to gain traction and get a reaction; and, you have to create fresh ads regularly. But with video marketing content, even companies with smaller budgets--or decent technology and operators in house--have the basic tools to enter the field. And with social media channels accessible by nearly everyone, the rest of the investment is the time it takes to upload and press “share.” 

Of course, to increase the likelihood of success with video content marketing businesses need to have a solid video marketing strategy that seamlessly supports and enhances all other marketing efforts. In the rest of this series we will give you the tools and information that you need to develop and execute an effective video content strategy for your business.

Check out our video marketing products here, and let us know how we can help you create and implement your video content:

Stay tuned for more posts in this occasional series on video marketing!

Cause marketing: Showing how much you care can boost your bottom line

Cause Marketing

Showing how much you care can boost your bottom line

IMI working with non-profit agency NatureReach

IMI working with non-profit agency NatureReach

We all know the warm feeling we get when tossing a few quarters in the collection bucket for a good cause. We like to help make a difference in our community. But did you know that your business can also benefit financially from supporting a good cause? In fact, if your business isn’t associated with a good cause it’s leaving money on the table for your competitors to scoop up. 

Cause Marketing refers to a type of marketing involving the cooperative efforts of a for-profit business and a non-profit organization for mutual benefit. Below we'll tell you why your business should have a cause marketing strategy, and we'll give you four steps to establishing one.

Why care about cause marketing?

In order to understand the need for a cause marketing strategy, it’s important to know what American consumers expect from businesses. America’s appetite for corporate involvement in important issues is at an all-time high. Consider these key insights about cause marketing and the American consumer:

  1. Consumers want to see it: According to a recent social impact study from Cone Communications more than 9 out of 10 people expect companies to support social or environmental issues in some capacity, and 88 percent are eager to hear from companies about these efforts. 
  2. They will swap companies for it: The same social impact study showed that given comparable price and quality, 89 percent of U.S. consumers would switch brands to one associated with a cause. 
  3. They will pay more for it: A 2014 Nielsen study showed that 55 percent of respondents were willing to pay more for products and services from companies committed to positive social and environmental impact. 
  4. Bonus! It will even help your recruiting: That same Nielsen study showed that 67 percent of people prefer to work for socially responsible companies. 

So, how do you establish a cause marketing strategy for your business?

4 steps to create an effective cause marketing strategy

  1. Pick the cause: Choose from the heart; if you aren’t authentic and committed to the cause your marketing efforts around it will fall flat. Consider charities and causes that you or your employees already know and support. Choose something you and your team can really support and believe in. And, choose a cause related to your industry or your local area. For example, a dermatology practice could partner with the The Skin Cancer Foundation, a home builder could partner with Habitat for Humanity, and a Dallas accounting firm could partner with a local charity that renovates low income playgrounds. 
  2. Do more than write a check: Writing a check is good, but your brand will benefit more if you donate time and services. Not only will you support the charity but you’ll showcase what your company does. Ask about events in which you can participate so you can get your brand in front of more eyes and build good will in the community. This also gives you opportunities to create social media content and build a consistent buzz about your business. 
  3. Structure the partnership: For cause marketing efforts to work, you need to build a real relationship with your non-profit partner. Discuss shared goals, needs, and opportunities. Identify the best ways to increase the visibility, awareness, and revenue for both parties, and agree to the deliverables for which each side will be responsible. Consider the rough monetary value of what your business will be providing and come up with what's fair to get in return. Don’t expect it to be even dollar for dollar, but make sure there’s mutual benefit. For example: If we produce a fundraising video for our non-profit partner, we’d like to be included on its website and be a sponsor at one of its annual events. 
  4. Spread the word: The final, and possibly most important step, is to spread the word and capitalize on your newfound charitable relationship by mounting a campaign. Consider the different ways to advertise this relationship, and make this plan part of your annual overall marketing strategy. The more consistently you include your cause-related marketing in all other marketing efforts, the more benefit you’ll see. Bigger companies and non-profits might use radio, television, or outdoor advertising to create awareness. For smaller companies consistent mention in blog posts and social media can do the trick. It doesn’t matter how you do it as long as you’re committed and consistent with what you do. 

In closing...

Hopefully, you now understand the need for a cause marketing strategy and how to create one. When you’re ready to spread the word about your company's charitable work we can help create a video that tells the story about the relationship and the impact you’re making. Such videos increase awareness and fundraising for your non-profit partner, and can be a powerful tool for increasing good will. They can also increase your revenue and the effectiveness of your recruiting campaigns. 

A walk with NatureReach 

Make sure to browse our other blog topics for insight on marketing your business, video content marketing, photography tips, video tips, and more.

About video marketing--an occasional series

Video marketing is here to stay

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The next big thing is in full swing

Video marketing has been “the next big thing” since 2006 when Google purchased YouTube and everyone started paying attention to it. It’s no longer “the next big thing.” It’s now “the” big thing and if your business isn’t on board then it’s sorely missing out. Maybe you’re like many marketers and business owners who know they should focus on a video strategy but don’t know where to start or how to be successful with it. Over the next several weeks and months, we’ll offer you an occasional series in all things video marketing here on this blog. You’ll learn what video marketing is and what it isn’t, why it’s gone from being an optional to a must-have strategy, how to succeed at it, and much more. Come along for the ride. You’ll be a video marketing pro in no time, and your business will be exponentially better for it. To get started, ask yourself:

Why should I care about video marketing?

The 3 Ps of why you should care about video marketing

Power: 1.8 million words … that’s the value of one minute of video according to Dr. James McQuivey, a marketing expert with Forrester Research. Do you have enough time to write 1.8 million words about your business? It would take you well over a year of writing non-stop for 8 hours a day. Creating a video strategy takes a lot less time than that!

Presence: Including a video on your website will have immediate effects on your web presence/SEO. Pages with video are 53 times more likely to rank on the first page of Google search results according to Forrester Research. And, according to ReelSEO, video results have a 41 percent higher click-through-rate than plain text results. Posts with videos attract three times more inbound links than plain text posts, cite analytics experts at Moz. 

Possibilities: Consider all the possible uses and topics already at your disposal for video marketing. How did your company begin?  Is there an interesting story about your founders?What’s unique about your products and services? Why do people love working there? Do you have a process that’s best explained with visuals? Do you partner with a non-profit, and if so, why? So many brand stories are more effectively told with video than with words alone. 

Check back here for more in this occasional series on video marketing, and how to put it to work for you. And remember, at IMI, we're experts at this. Let us help you maximize your marketing efforts with video marketing.


Invasion of the young professionals

The millennial influx

by Hannah Sheffield, IMI marketing coordinator

As the new year begins, many of us are ready to roll out new marketing strategies. We're keeping some old ideas and tossing others to make way for new ones. Before you get too far down the road, however, here's some compelling information about the way one generation is changing the way we all do business.  

Not long ago young professionals only held entry-level positions in order to gain experience that would eventually help them achieve C-Level status. Not anymore. Millennial professionals are increasingly holding more influence in the workplace and as consumers. 

Today, millennial consumers are not only a huge target market for almost every business, but in most workplaces, they have become decision influencers over the decision makers. In other words, C-Level executives in the company may have the final say, but they look to the millennials on the team for guidance on which way to go.

Not convinced? Look at these stats:

  • In 2018, millennial consumers are expected to hold about $3.39 trillion in annual buying power in the U.S. (Oracle). 
  • Research done by the firm EY found that 87 percent of millennial workers took on management positions in the last five years, as opposed to the combined 57 percent of Gen X and Baby Boomers being promoted. 

Here are some tips to relating and appealing to the young professionals invading businesses—likely including yours—from every angle:

Connecting with the millennial consumer

Keep in mind that individuals in the “millennial” category are just that—individuals. They don’t want to be grouped into binding categories. That said, as a group, millennials tend to appreciate authenticity, honesty, and transparency. All of these values should be kept in mind when creating a strategy to target your millennial customers. 

The characteristics of millennials should guide your strategy creation. Gaining contact information for this market segment would be ideal; however, you have to earn the trust of the consumer first. In order to do this, you have to relate to them by marketing your company as having their shared values.

Only six percent of millennials consider online advertising to be credible. On the other hand, 95 percent of them believe their friends are the most credible source of purchasing information (SocialChorus). Simply launching an ad campaign won’t do the trick to win over millennials. 

One way to insert yourself into the millennial trust triangle is to start a word-of-mouth campaign. These can be difficult, but with the right planning, your company can build credibility by word of mouth. Just look at this video that Chipotle had done, for example:

One intention of this video marketing tactic was to get people talking. What did Chipotle want them to talk about? The brand, the company’s values, and most importantly, the quality of its products. This video successfully achieved the goals of encouraging people to think about the topic raised, and to promote conversation about it.

Persuading the millennial leader

In order to appeal to a millennial decision influencer, it’s important to understand his or her leadership style. And this differs from the traditional top-down leadership of previous generations. The millennial leader tends to be open, inclusive, transparent, and promotes a team-oriented interaction style.

When communicating with millennial leaders, it’s also important to produce content that's accessible, fair, trustworthy, and inclusive. If you think about it, millennials have grown up during a time in which race, gender, sexual orientation, and opinion is very diverse. Inclusivity is incredibly important to millennials.

It will be vital to appeal to millennials for years to come. We hope these tips will help you tap into the purchasing and influencing power that millennials hold.